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Freelance Work Online: Self-Help for Freelancers
If you want to get freelance work online the articles in this section may come in handy. What is freelance work? Freelancing is a synonym for working as an independent contractor.
- Freelance Work Online Advantages
Freelance Work Online Disadvantages
Where to begin Self-education
Freelance Work Online Investments Freelance Work Online Self-Help
You work on a project-by-project basis, and you get paid a lump sum when either the work is finished or a milestone is reached.
Since being a freelancer means doing a lot for yourself, self-help processes should be started as soon as you begin working as a freelancer.
Freelance Work Online Advantages
You can pick what you want to do, and pass on what you don’t like
You don’t have a traditional boss busting your chops every day
You can work where and when you want, as much or as little as you want
You aren’t tied to a single place and can be on the move
You can take days off without the need to justify it to anyone
You can expand and diversify your skills, products and services at your leisure
You can spot the processes that don’t agree with you and outsource them
You don’t need to commute to your workplace
You don’t have to deal with office politics or toxic coworkers
You can control your finances and adjust things according to your needs or wishes
Freelance Work Online Disadvantages
Doing freelance jobs from home doesn’t mean becoming a freelancer is free of hassles. These are some of the cons of freelancing:
You have to do almost everything your business requires yourself
You have to establish your service as a legal entity yourself
You have to do all or most of your accounting yourself
You must be full of hustle and never stop looking for gigs
You need to be on the lookout for freelance work online opportunities constantly
You need to plan for retirement and feed your retirement account
You need to pay for a medical plan every month to be covered
You don’t have the sense of security that a traditional job may give you
Where to begin
If you Already Worked on Your Niche
Your very first step as a freelancer should be gathering up and organizing all the previous work you did in the field you intend to become an independent contractor.
Let’s assume you will work as a freelance copywriter (just to give an example). Before deciding on going on your own you already worked as a copywriter and/or content writer for a company or an agency.
This is the moment where you should make a list of all the work you did in that capacity. In this list, you will add the company or person you worked for and will add a contact website, email address, or phone for each. If you remember the details, you should write one or two of the assignments you worked on for each company.
Once you finish that list, put it aside and start a second list. In this other list, you will list all of the pieces of work you did that are still accessible through the web or that have otherwise free access.
These two lists will help you a great deal when you start postulating yourself for gigs. Most of the people that will potentially award you with assignments will want to have both social proof and examples of your work.
With the two lists, you will save yourself a lot of time when you apply for the assignments and they ask you for references or examples (called clippings in copywriter jargon) and believe me, they will.
If you didn’t Work on Your Niche
It becomes a bit more complicated to get others to trust you for freelance work online if you don’t have anything to show them. As you gain momentum and you do gigs, you will start amassing social proof that will back up your claims and increase your credibility.
If you need to build a portfolio, always remember, after finishing a gig to ask those whom you worked for if you can include the content of the assignments in your portfolio.
If they say no, but the pieces are available for free on the web, and if they have a byline (a ‘written by’ notice with your name on it), then you don’t need to worry. You can always give the links of your work to your potential clients, or you can list those pieces, with links to the piece online, in your portfolio page or website.
When you ask your clients for permission to include samples of your work for them in your portfolio, you should assure your clients that you aren’t going to make the content available on the web, or at the very least, not available for search engines to index.
This means that every piece of content that a client allowed you to include in your portfolio mustn’t create a duplicate content situation on the web.
There are many ways to achieve this, and you should always tell your clients how you decided to protect the piece from becoming a duplicate content liability.
You can simply create a folder on your computer in which you will collect all the pieces that your clients allowed you to use in your portfolio, and simply compress and send this folder to your clients when they ask for examples or clippings.
You can create a portfolio that is access-only, thus not available for search engines, direct access through an URL, or any other free access, by making a blog or similar online portfolio that needs a password or account to be entered.
The riskiest way you can do this is by creating a portfolio on your website and disallowing search engines to index the pages, but it’s dubious how this method would convince your clients to allow you to post duplicate content on the web.
Whatever the attitude of your clients towards the content you sold to them, you should also think that ultimately, it will not help you to have duplicate content on your website, since duplicate content always comes with search engine sanctions and negative side-effects in your rankings. Thus, if you convince your clients to give you permission to post samples or whole examples of your work for them on the web, and use a noindex tag in the pages for search engines not to index it, you still will be better off if you create a portfolio mini-site to do it, instead of posting it in a section of your main website.
Freelancing and working as an independent contractgor sounds great in print, but the reality of the market is a very different one. You may suppose that those looking to give assignments to freelancers will be less demanding than those that hire persons for steady jobs.
Sadly, that isn’t the case, at least in my experience. You might find that a lot of the gigs that you will find calling for freelancers make too many out-of-place demands that have no bearing on your capacity as a freelancer.
Here is where self-help shines, because educating yourself about all the processes of your freelancer business is the best kind of education since you will be researching and studying only the things you need on a need-to-know basis.
By maintaining a plan of continual self-education you can adapt to upcoming market demands by learning new skills.
Freelance Work Online Investments
You and your business as a freelancer need to evolve and scale-up. Even if you don’t want to have anything tangible that will establish your services for all and sundry to know them, like for instance a website, you can’t grow if you don’t decide on an investment plan to scale up your business.
This means that you will take a portion of each payment you receive, from 10% to 20%, and put it away to use solely to invest in the improvement and growth of your business. There are many things in which you can invest to grow as a freelancer:
When you are just starting your freelance work online, you can use a portfolio service to showcase a handful of clippings or other work samples, and many free services will allow you to do that.
But if you are serious about your career as a freelancer, there isn’t anything as convenient as owning your website, powered by a real, professional content management system.
There are many advantages to having a freelancer website:
Attracting potential clients through organic search or advertising
Pre-selling your services by demonstrating your skills
Capturing the email addresses of potential clients to build a list
Sending out a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly digest or newsletter
Learning what the people in your niche are looking for
Having a channel of communication with your clients that you own
Enabling your clients to ask for estimates without hassle
Hosting a state-of-the-art portfolio of previous works (links only)
Publishing content related to your niches and monetizing it
Specializing for your target markets the pieces of content you add to the website
Maybe advertising your services on a site like Craiglist is not that important, and it may not yield a good ROI, I don’t know. But if you are making a lot of effort creating a freelancer services website to attract clients, then a well-thought advertising strategy may make all the difference.
If you do your website optimization right, it will always attract traffic, but it will take time for your site to climb to the first page of the search engines. Investing in advertising can put your freelancer's website in front of your potential customers more quickly and easily.
If you decide to carry out social media or content marketing campaigns to market your freelance work online, then your daily tasks can become overwhelmingly time-consuming fast.
Just get involved in two or three projects for clients, and you will probably have to add extra hours of work to your daily schedule and you may even end up completing your content marketing and social marketing pending tasks on weekends.
There are many freelancer business processes that, once you have the investment budget to spare, are better outsourced than keeping doing them yourself.
For example, when you run out of time to continue performing your marketing campaigns yourself, you can invest in the services of a social media manager and have all your social media and content marketing tasks done by someone else. In this way, you can concentrate on your freelancer tasks only.
If you are starting as a freelancer and don’t have anything to show for it, there are ways to start building meaningful social proof. You need money for this, but the results will pay for the investment.
For instance, you could set up camp in freelancer portals that offer qualifications for a fee. One example is the Freelancer Exams that you can take on freelancer.com. You pay, you take the exam, and if you pass an exams badge appears in your freelancer.com profile.
This increases credibility with potential clients and the website claims it will enable you to command higher bidding prices when negotiating a project.
Freelance Work Online Self-Help
Taking up freelance work online can be simple or complex, but even if you decide to make your service as low-maintenance as you possibly can, there still are quite a few different moving parts of the business that may puzzle you and it may take you a long time to find what works and what doesn’t. In this section, I will curate all my previous experience to show you the best choices, short-cuts that worked for me.
© Martin Wensley, 2022 — Self-help for Freelancers: Freelance Work Online